Logic Pro: Using Automation Patterns in Your Songs

Automation is often a big part of most Logic projects. In this tip Darren Burgos shows you how to create your own preset patterns you can apply to any automation parameter. A must read!  

In today's world of electronic music composition, automation is used for much more than simply controlling the volume of your tracks. Nearly every parameter you can think of can be controlled through automation like pitch, LFO rate, filter cutoff, resonance, EQ, panning and more. Creating rhythmic patterns with automation can add life and texture to your songs. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a library of pre-made automation shapes you could drop in on your tracks?

When I'm producing, I'll often pull from a small library of shapes I've made and saved into a Logic Project. I can easily copy these pre-made patterns into my existing songs because they've been saved inside a standard region. This also makes it easy to stretch or compress the automation ...but we'll cover that in just a bit!

library of shapes

I've included a Logic Project called Automation Pattern Library. Download the project first. In this article I'll show you how easy it is to get these into your songs, and what you can do with them...

Step 1 - Copy the automation

Open the Automation Shape Logic Template and copy the region of your choice with Command-C, then click back into the song you'll be adding the automation to.

Step 2 - Create a clone of the track

Click the track of the instrument/audio track you want to add the automation to, then from the Track menu, select “New with Same Channel Strip/Instrument.” This is a cool function that not many people use. It clones the selected track, but doesn't actually make a new one. It's still the exact same track you started with, but now you have a new lane to add things like automation in our case.

New with Same Channel Strip/Instrument

Step 3 - Paste the automation

After you create the new track, place the timeline where you'd like the automation to start, and Command-V to paste it.

Paste the Automation

Step 4 - Repeat the automation

The automation only lasts one bar, but I want the automation to last 4 bars. I'll copy it by Option-Click-Dragging the region 3 times.

Option-Click-Dragging the region 3 times

Step 5 - Convert automation to track based

So I can re-assign the automation to any parameter of my choice, I need to get the automation out of region based automation, and into track based automation. Select the 4 regions (or however many you have), and select Track > Track Automation > Move Visible Region Data to Track Automation.

Track > Track Automation > Move Visible Region Data to Track Automation

Step 6 - Toggle to view the automation

Now press A on your Mac's keyboard to toggle Track Automation. The automation contained in the region is volume, but we'll be changing that in just a moment. You'll notice that both the original track and the new one you created have the same automation of them... this clearly reveals the nature of the “New with same Channel Strip/Instrument” track. It really is, just a clone of the track above it.

 Track Automation

Step 7 - Convert automation to another parameter

Now let's re-assign the automation to a different parameter. Click one of the track's automation selection menus while holding the Option key. Continue to hold the key until you find the parameter you'd like to copy the automation to, then select it. A window will appear asking if you'd like to only convert, or copy and convert. Select “Convert.” The automation shape is now converted to your parameter of choice!

Convert automation

Step 8 - Time stretch the automation

Now let's say you've decided that the pattern is too fast and you'd like it to play back slower. First make sure the automation selection menu is displaying the correct automation, then go back to the empty regions and select them. Merge the regions together with key command Control-= first, then select Track > Track Automation > Move Visible Track Automation to Region. This will place the automation back inside them. 

Track > Track Automation > Move Visible Track Automation to Region

Now drag the region out while holding the Option key and the automation data will be time stretched to the length you choose.

Hold Option to time stretch automation

Hope you enjoyed the article!

Darren started making music on computers when he was a teenager in 1987. His first computer was an Amiga, and when he realized the power of computer-based production, his addiction for making electronic music began. Darren switched to Mac in 1994 and started using Logic Pro. He's been involved in many music projects over the years incl... Read More


great tutorial- I get it all except the time stretching.

If you just copy the region with automation into a track and option drag it, it stretches the region but not the automation inside. What am I missing?

Darren Burgos
Cool! Glad you like it. :) Make sure to pull the automation BACK into the region before Option - Click - Dragging. Click the region you want to contain the automation, click the local Track menu, then Track Automation, and select "Move Visible Track Automation to Region." That should do it ...once it back inside the region, the Option - Click - Drag should stretch the automation too.

Words cannot express how grateful I am for not only the fantastic tutorial, but the invaluable project file! My production partner and I are automation junkies, so this "library" will save us loads of time with regards to drawing basic automation. We've often dreamed of a built-in shape library similar to Massive's Performer and hope that the fine folks at Apple will include it in Logic X when it's finally released sometime in the next 100 years. :-)

Darren Burgos
Hi Lostinthesound, that is great to hear! I appreciate your response so much, and yes, this could be an amazing feature added to the next Logic. Let's hope they read this! :)
Mat Monteiro
Cool Darren! Thanks a lot.
It's retard that Logic does not have a solution similar to Studio One. No workaround needed.

Please consult http://cl.ly/image/2R0v2o2q1Q2y

Wow, that looks fantastic, submitting feedback right now. You should too!
Hi, great tutorial! I managed to successfully follow through all the steps, but when I got to Step 8, I couldn't get the automation to 'time stretch'. Any ideas?
Hi Adriane,

Are you holding down the Option (Alt) key when stretching the automation? Make sure your release the mouse button before releasing the Option key.

Hope this helps :)
Yes, I am. Still not working.. :(
Rounik, I'm a little confused here... in Step 8 above, it says to 'drag the region', but in your question to me, you asked whether I'm 'holding down the Option key when stretching the automation'. Which one is it? Do I drag the region or do I drag the automation? While holding down the Option key and clicking on the top right of the region to drag it, the cursor always turns into the Loop cursor, and I'm unable to drag the region.
Darren Burgos
Hi Adriana, this is the author of this article Darren. Since this was written, somewhere along the way of Logic updates it may have changed a bit. This worked perfectly at a point (see comments above it, and even the screen shot of me actually doing it), but you're right, stretching at the top of the region no longer seems to work.

Do this to get it to work: After you've moved the data back into the region, go to the Arrange window's local "view" menu, then to HyperDraw, then to OFF. You'll now be able stretch the region (and it's automation data) by Option clicking the BOTTOM right corner instead.
Hey Darren, you were right! I'm using Logic 10.0.3, that's probably why it didn't work using the steps from the tutorial. When I did what you wrote in your comment above, it worked! Thank you for your helpful reply and your very helpful tutorial! :)
Hey Darren, you were right! I'm using Logic 10.0.3, that's probably why it didn't work using the steps from the tutorial. When I did what you wrote in your comment above, it worked! Thank you for your helpful reply and your very helpful tutorial! :)
Darren Burgos
Hi Adriana, That's great that's it's working for you now :). Apple must have changed it's behavior in the last version of 9 and now in X ...you may have noticed the name is no longer HyperDraw ...it's now MIDI Draw in Logic X. Thanks for checking out the article!
Hi, I'm having trouble with step four. Every time I Option-click-drag it stretches my automation to a larger version of the pattern. There's still eight peaks of volume swell but now stretched over 2 bars instead of what I want: 16 peaks over two bars. I tried looping the automation but it doesn't transfer to moving the visible region data to track automation... please help! Geez I wish logic would just have automation-shape tools.

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